The threat of a motion for a declaratory judgment made by 81 Quebec municipalities in the matter of the regulation surrounding the exploitation of shale gas constitutes a “change of tone” on the part of municipalities, according to Minister of the Environment Isabelle Melançon.
“The last time we met on April 13, I felt the cooperation from the municipalities. It seems that there may have been a change of tone, “said the minister, in an interview with Le Soleil about this possible recourse to the courts. “I’ll leave them their strategy. For my part, I have only one word and I will continue to work in collaboration and that’s what I hope from them too. “
The group of municipalities, including Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly, Anticosti, Sorel-Tracy, Lanoraie and Restigouche-Southeast, applied for exemption from the Water Levy and Protection Regulations in force. since 2014. He wants the minimum distance between a hydraulic fractionation operation to exploit shale gas and a source of drinking water to be two kilometers rather than the 500 m allowed by the regulation.
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“We rely on science. We had the regulation checked by an independent group that validated it. By the way, our regulations are one of the toughest in North America. However, we understand that some municipalities want to go further or that some citizens ask them to go further, “said the minister, adding that she had proposed to the group of municipalities to submit to a more in-depth analysis the study he submitted to support his requests. The municipalities, however, rejected this proposal.
The minister also pointed out that municipalities still have the ability to pass a more stringent regulation themselves than the provincial regulation. “Our regulations are still severe, but it’s a minimum,” she says, adding that her colleague Pierre Moreau, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, will also soon be tabling a regulation concerning hydrocarbons. .
Ms. Melançon said she heard Quebecers’ concerns about shale gas, but added that this concern should not be raised either. “Let’s not forget that more than half of the 328 municipalities that ratified the minor exemption request are not even concerned because they do not have the option of having shale gas in their basement,” adds she, promising to municipalities developments in the coming weeks.
“I always said that I intended to look at things until June. I am having their studies checked and I will come back, “she promised.